DILI (TOP) – United States (US) Ambassador to Timor-Leste Kevin Blackstone and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and Territory Jose Maria dos Reis signed two important Memoranda of Understanding on June 28, 2021 at the Office of the Ministry of Planning and Territory (MPO), launching the joint rehabilitation of Baucau Airfield, and intent to engage in good faith discussions regarding potential U.S. Government support for the civil aviation sector in Timor-Leste.
The Government of Timor-Leste requested U.S. Government assistance to rehabilitate Baucau Airfield in 2018, and this Memorandum of Understanding reflects the U.S. commitment to support that request. The project, funded by the United States Department of Defense, allocates an initial $10.6 million intended to enhance Timor-Leste’s capacity in the areas of security, humanitarian assistance, and disaster response operations to contribute to the development of a resilient and diversified economy. This includes support to the development of the F-FDTL’s Air Component and small-scale construction to improve security and storage capabilities at Baucau Airfield.
The project includes the donation of an American-made Cessna 206 aircraft, the installation of a security fence, the construction of an equipment storage warehouse, and high-quality American equipment to include a fuel truck, fire truck, forklift, two Ford F-350 utility trucks, a runway sweeper, and other support vehicles and airport security equipment. The aircraft will come with high-tech cameras the F-FDTL can use to monitor Timor-Leste’s territorial waters as well as respond to natural disasters.
Ambassador Blackstone and Deputy Prime Minister dos Reis also signed a Memorandum of Understanding signifying the two governments’ intent to engage in good-faith discussions regarding potential U.S. support for the development of Timor-Leste’s civil aviation sector, including discussion on the training of human resources for the operation of the civil airports of Timor-Leste, and development of civil aviation operations.
Ambassador Blackstone praised the Memoranda, noting that it demonstrates the close security cooperation and economic ties between the two countries.
“I am proud of the close, mutual partnership between the United States and Timor-Leste,” said U.S. Ambassador Kevin Blackstone. “These Memoranda signify the longstanding security and economic relationship between the United States and Timor-Leste. The joint rehabilitation of Baucau Airfield is the latest example of bilateral cooperation. We are proud to support the development of the F-FDTL’s Air Component, which will aid in the protection of Timor-Leste’s sovereignty and economic rights. In addition to national security, the Baucau Airfield project creates opportunities for economic development, including tourism, throughout the Eastern part of the country. The United States is pleased to support Timor-Leste’s efforts to promote its economic diversification and recovery.”
Ambassador Blackstone and Deputy Prime Minister dos Reis were also joined by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Adaljiza Albertina Xavier Reis Magno.